New sex is f*cking great.
Much of last year was spent riding the dating rollercoaster, so here is a round-up of some of the dating lessons I’ve learned through all of the thrills, spills, and chills.
First of all, my credentials as it were. Well, following my divorce and the ending of a subsequent 10-month relationship (not a factor in the divorce I must add!), I'm looking for the woman of my dreams, the real deal, fireworks, the ONE dammit! And I'm not settling for less.
In my quest I've become very well acquainted with the world of online dating and I'm happy to say that I've been reasonably successful in getting to the offline bit, having met up with somewhere around 30 women that I've initially spoken with online. And THAT'S where the troubles begin my friends. So, here are some of my hard earned lessons — it's a tough school folks!
If you’ve been there, may I raise from you a wry and knowing smile; if not, please take this opportunity to live vicariously through my experiences and then whisper a prayer of thanks that there but for the grace of God.
So, in no particular order:
1. Find your level.
There’s a saying in sport that it’s all about levels, and while a minnow will occasionally spring a surprise against the big boys in the cup, on the whole the table doesn’t lie and the teams around you reflect your level.
Dating for the first time in over 20 years I had no idea what level I would find myself playing at. Well, I’ve only gone and done a Leicester — against all expectations I have managed to find myself playing some Champions League stuff this season.
2. It’s one thing finding them, another thing entirely keeping them.
Honestly, I’ve been blown out more times than a windsock this year. Such is life, and as the saying goes, it’s a numbers game. It does, however, get a little hard to take when the reasons for getting dumped begin to feel like the universe having a piss-take:
- "I’m not in the right place for dating right now." I’d say, I thought we met on a dating site.
- "I’m not ready for a relationship." Thanks, it would have been nice if you could have told me that a few weeks ago when you were telling me that you wanted "the full thing."
- "The married guy left his wife for me this morning." Cool, sounds like a keeper (OK I confess, my reaction wasn’t quite so sanguine and resulted in a run-in with a wall that resulted in a painfully bruised knuckle for a few weeks).
Ahhh, and then there would be the ghosters, because even though we are middle-aged adults, apparently some of us think it better to just disappear than having the decency to just f*cking tell somebody that we’ve been seeing that we won’t be seeing them again. Really, we’re grown ups — could we maybe try acting like them?
3. Sex is f*cking great.
4. There are some not-so-great expectations that come with it.
In my early days of dating, an approaching first date would bring with it a certain excitement and hope. A few first dates later and this childish naivety was replaced by a more worldly "no expectations, let’s just enjoy the night out" approach.
A few (figurative) kicks in the nuts later and it was "expect the worst" territory. As soon as dating becomes a chore it’s time to take a break; after all, isn’t it meant to be fun?
5. There’s plenty of fish (with plenty of baggage).
It’s true that there are plenty of fish in the sea, and as a middle-aged dater, I have discovered that there’s also plenty of f*cking issues. Amongst the terminal debris of various dating sites you will find more baggage than a Kardashian vacation, and if it’s smooth sailing you’re expecting then you’d better think again.
To be fair, I’ve been guilty myself of boarding the dating express without checking in my baggage. Not anymore — it’s much easier to reach your desired destination by traveling light.
6. There are some sick puppies out there.
In meeting a number of women, I’ve heard a lot of stories about the men that are cruising through the dating pool: Paranoids, possessives, foot fetishists, overgrown adolescents, a man that wants the special lady in his life to wear her knickers for five days straight then wear them himself afterward, adulterers, men that like a high heel to make an acquaintance with their testicles...
When this is the competition and you’re still single it’s hard not to think that maybe it’s time to settle for life with a cat and a hairy palm.
7. WhatsApp is just awful.
There is a dating phenomenon called ghosting, and just to rub it in we have WhatsApp. I f*cking hate those blue ticks mocking me, delighting in letting me know that she was online 50 times in the last half hour and still hasn’t answered the message I sent 3 hours ago.
Oh, well, at least thanks to Facebook I know she’s alive and well and has eaten a giant bag of Minstrels for tea.
8. It's hard determining your actual relationship.
We used to have a decent idea of how our dating was going by reaching some pretty clear milestones. Not anymore. Social media and online dating sites have made dating into a puzzle worthy of The Krypton Factor.
When do we friend request our date on Facebook? Should we "check-in" to places together? Should we like their posts/photos or will that be a bit too forward? When do we delete our dating profiles? Are we "exclusive"? Are we in a relationship if we haven’t announced it on Facebook? Do we need to discuss updating our relationship status or do we just do it and hope for the best?
Considering some of these questions may help to prevent situations such as finding yourself in bed with someone in the morning and finding out that she is on a first date with someone else when you message her in the evening.
9. Don't give up hope.
Yes, it’s a numbers game and, yes, you will face disappointments along the way. Inevitably, this can lead to knocked confidence and an unwillingness to put yourself out there at risk of being let down and hurt again.
In the end, only you will know when to take a break and when to throw yourself back into the fray. But know this: Wherever there is disappointment, there is also a road ahead of you that will lead you to somewhere better.
And the light always appears brighter when you've had to emerge from the dark to find it.
This article was originally published at Love, Laughter & Truth. Reprinted with permission from the author.